Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

Summary: As I wrote yesterday, the issue here does not appear to be the Hercules emulator itself, but TurboHercules, which is seeking to profit from it. But is the IBM pledge one between equals, taken within an industry, or is it a concession only to hobbyists?

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IBM's apparent actions in the case of TurboHercules have caused enormous anger in the open source community.

Having been the target of angry people myself from time to time, I know such things can be hard to stop.

Fortunately, IBM seems to have a friend in Jim Zemlin (right), executive director of the Linux Foundation.

Zemlin yesterday gave IBM a chance to respond on his blog. Dan Frye, vice president of open systems development at IBM and a Linux Foundation board member, accepted it.

Frye wrote to Zemlin that the company's 2005 pledge has not been violated. "IBM stands by this 2005 Non-Assertion Pledge today as strongly as it did then. IBM will not sue for the infringement of any of those 500 patents by any Open Source Software."

Our friends at ZDNet UK did some follow-up and found a bit of qualification on the pledge from an IBM spokesman.

"In 2005, when IBM announced open access to 500 patents that we own, we said the pledge is applicable to qualified open-source individuals or companies," said an IBM spokesperson. "We have serious questions about whether TurboHercules qualifies. TurboHercules is a member of organisations founded and funded by IBM competitors such as Microsoft to attack the mainframe. We have doubts about TurboHercules' motivations."

The old dangling qualifier trick, claims Alan Shimel of Network World., and Mueller, who started the controversy, agrees. Qualified is a word IBM can define for itself, he told our Tom Espiner.

As I wrote yesterday, the issue here does not appear to be the Hercules emulator itself, but TurboHercules, which is seeking to profit from it. But is the IBM pledge one between equals, taken within an industry, or is it a concession only to hobbyists?

IBM might indeed be right on the law here, but I still wonder how the community will react, and whether an over-reaction might hit IBM defenders like Zemlin. Once the mob starts marching it's hard for even a sheriff to turn them away.

Topics: Software, IBM, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

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13 comments
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  • All animals are equal but some are more equal than others

    Or in this case, some are obviously <i>less</i>
    equal than others.

    You are licensed to use these patents. Ugh no, you
    may infringe on these patents and we will not sue
    you.

    As long as you don't hurt our bottom line. Then
    we'll sue.
    honeymonster
  • RE: Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

    Sounds like just another reason for linux users to complain about something. They aren't happy unless they do. IBM said they aren't suing, no reason for linux people to get into a tizzy over it.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Uh, but they are threatening to sue

      The key point is they don't want the commercial
      side of Hercules to exist. They're willing to have
      the open source project, but monetizing it is in
      violation of their patents, they claim.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • It runs on OSX and Windows, too, genius. And IBM say they'll sue.

      Why would Linux fanboys be upset over one of Microsoft's buddies being sued?

      That doesn't even make any sense.
      AzuMao
  • This roughly resembles the strategy of MS ...

    NO COMPANY in their right mind is going to go after home users or even small business users (SCO was NOT in their right mind). Old school companies like MS and IBM WILL,however, assert patents against competitors no matter what pledges have been made. That is just a fact of life. As long as we have software patents, this issue is going to remain. These companies live and breathe this stuff. They are always on the defense and occasionally on the offense. Software patents are, unfortunately the law of the land and as long as that is the case, all the open source covenants in the world aren't going to stop the litigation. If you use it for your own purposes or to make a small profit, you are likely safe, but if you get greedy you will attract the eyes of someone equally as greedy.
    George Mitchell
  • What do you expect

    What do you expect from a bunch of freeloaders?
    Stan57
  • RE: Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

    In the business world there has to be revenue stream
    and profit, that is just a fact of life. If a company
    has inventions that can be given away to selected
    parties at no cost (to the receiver OR THE GIVER)
    because the receiver would not probably BUY the
    product anyway and is in no way competing against the
    giver. This results in simple good will and product advertising.

    Then there are the parties who are in a position to
    BUY this same product because it is of significant
    business value to them. This is where the inventors
    revenue stream and profit comes from. If another
    party is interfering with that why should they be
    allowed to have the same FREE RIDE status as the first
    noted party? Would that not be plain and simple
    business suicide. Muddled thinking does not seem to
    be able to make the clear distinctions between
    different situations. FREE must also have no cost to
    the giver, as in revenue stream.
    bigpicture
  • We have inlaws, and we have outlaws

    We geeve somebody one of our toys. They use it to compete with our business, they aint no keessing cousin. We do not keess them, we keek their auss.
    Ole Man
  • IBM double standards.

    It's OK to develop open source projects as long as it's
    not financed by Microsoft and does not compete with us.

    It's also not OK to violate our patents if you are
    financed by MS or compete with us. Hobbyists are safe
    though...

    What a joke. Makes me puke.
    zelrikriando
  • Meh.

    I was actually a bit worried about another SCO x 1,000 case, but if they aren't suing, I'm happy.
    Subsentient
  • RE: Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

    I'm not overly surprised at IBM having an issue, here.

    There has been a growth of projects weaseling around
    with "dueling licenses":

    "You could use an 'open source' version of our
    software, but you probably really want to buy a
    traditional proprietary license from us."

    That's how MySQL(tm) was making licensing fees, by
    selling versions licensed under a Traditional Not Open
    Source Proprietary License, and the same is true for
    quite a number of systems out there.

    And folks that do that are being pretty weaselly about
    it, claiming "open source goodness," but *really*
    selling a traditional proprietary set of software. I'd
    not expect an "open source non-assertion promise" to
    apply to software that was being sold under a
    traditional non-open-source license.

    I don't know that this is what TurboHercules was up to
    - a quick browse of their web site doesn't readily show
    anything "for sale." Facts still need to emerge before
    trying to conclude who's the "real weasel."

    I'm a little suspicious of the recent IBM comment -
    they pointed at, in effect, "organizational intent,"
    which is a pretty muddy thing to try to evaluate
    (particularly in the context of a public discussion of
    the matter).

    I'd have been rather more convinced had the IBM
    statement been something more like: "We are not
    attacking the Hercules project, which we agree is an
    open source project. Unfortunately, TurboHercules is
    selling non-open-source licenses, thereby disqualifying
    themselves from the non-assertion commitment."
    cbbrowne
  • IBM raises an important point

    IBM raises a good point. Their "open" IP could be used by competitors to attack IBM's core business. Does IBM have an obligation to let that happen?

    What happens if open source conventions expose IBM, or any other company, to competitive attack? The obvious answer is that they will not contribute to open source and the OS community loses a significant source of open IP.

    The OS community has to be open to the realities of competitive business.
    dsonnen@...
  • RE: Linux tries to quiet the TurboHercules mob for IBM

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